Seven Often-Missed SEO Opportunities
Donald Nelson, copyright 2007
If you have
good content and present it in a reasonable way, then you have
an excellent chance of achieving good positions in search
engine queries for your main keywords and keyword phrases. You
don’t have to resort to any trickery to get your site noticed.
However, many web designers and web masters fail to take
advantage of opportunities to get high search engine rankings
by mishandling a few crucial components of their web pages.
Here is a list of the seven most frequently missed search
engine optimization opportunities:
1. You’ve got to display your text as text!
This sounds elementary, but it is not. Many designers want the
site to look good and replace headlines with gif images. The
headlines (or headers) are one of the most important elements
on any printed page. If you want to know what a magazine
article is all about, then you just have to glance at the
headline and the sub-headings to get a good idea. Similarly,
search engines place great importance on headers, which are
usually marked with the html codes <H1> <H2> or <H3>. If you
are selling blue widgets and want to be found in the search
engines by people who make the query “blue widgets” then you
should put these words in a text headline, properly marked, at
the top of your page.
Some website building programs often render entire paragraphs
of text as images. A person viewing such a page will be able
to read it, but a search engine’s robot will not see the text.
So, check your web pages, and if vital text is being replaced
by graphic images, then it is better to substitute the images
2. Put a good amount of text on your pages
It’s not just headlines that count, body text is also needed.
It’s true that a picture is often worth 1000 words, but
following this strategy is not good when it comes to search
engine optimization. If your page is about blue widgets, then
an opening headline saying “Get the Best Blue Widgets from the
ACME Widget Company” is a good start, and a picture of a blue
widget would be OK, but why stop there?
People come to the web looking for information. They come to
find a solution to their problem or to find something that
will benefit them in some way. If it takes you a few
paragraphs or even a whole page to explain all the benefits
that your widgets offer, then by all means add that text to
your page. It will help your users, and in the process you
will be repeating your keywords and phrases again which in
turn will tell the search engines that this page is truly
about blue widgets. So, more text is good for search engine
recognition and for the end users alike.
3. Don’t use the same title tags on all the pages
Title tags are even more important than headlines in letting
the search engines understand what your web page is all about.
The title tag is displayed as the first line of text in the
blue row at the top of the browsing window. The code for the
tag is in the <head> section of the html document and is
Normally you will want your site to rank well for a variety of
phrases and keywords. You can’t stuff all of these keywords
and search phrases in one headline or in one title tag. It
will cause “indigestion” for both your viewers and for the
search engines. A better strategy is to organize your website
into different pages, with each page emphasizing a certain
aspect of your activity.
In fact, most websites are built this way. But the problem is
that instead of emphasizing the unique aspect of each
particular page with a properly crafted title tag, many
websites repeat the same tag on all the inner pages. This is
truly a missed opportunity to get ranking for a large number
of different keyword phrases. So, don’t miss this one: make a
separate title tag for each of your pages
4. Don’t try to do your branding in the title tag
Unless you are already well known it makes no sense to overly
emphasize your company name in the title tag. People are not
searching for the XYWZ MP3 Player Company. They are searching
for MP3 players. The first words in a title tag are the most
important. If you are Coca-Cola then maybe it makes sense to
have these as the first words, but if you are yet-
to-be-famous then it makes more sense to put your most
important keywords and keyword phrases in the forefront of
your title tags. Your company’s logo at the top of the pages
can do the branding for you, but leave the title tag for the
more important task of being found in search engine queries.
You can consult my previous article “How
to Write Title Tags”,
, for more suggestions.
5. Your link structure should be easy for search engines to
Even if you have great text and well-written headlines and a
unique title tag on each of your pages, it will not do you
that much good if all of your pages are not indexed by the
search engines. Normally a search engine robot will visit one
of your pages and then look for more links and if it finds
those links it will visit those pages and add them to the
search engine’s data base or index. If your links are easy to
follow then all of your inner pages will end up in the search
engine index and will be displayed when they match queries
made by searchers.
Some site navigation structures are not search-engine
friendly. Links found in java-script, which is used in many
drop-down menus, may not be followed by the robots. Similarly
links on image maps (particular segments of graphic images)
may also be missed by the robots.
The best way to make sure that your links are followed by the
robots is to make a simple text navigation menu at the bottom
of your pages. This kind of navigation bar can supplement your
drop down menu or other navigation system and it has multiple
benefits. It helps the search engines follow the links, and it
reminds your users, as they reach the bottom of the page,
where they can go next. On top of that, it helps you with
opportunity number 6.
6. Use your site’s “anchor” text to your advantage
Just as the title tags and headlines give a good indication
about the contents of your pages, so do the descriptive words
in the internal links on your website. The clickable portion
of a site’s text links are known as “anchor text.” Instead of
having all of your anchor text read “Click Here,” find a way
to put the words “mp3 Player,” “Blue Widgets,” “Illinois Real
Estate” or whatever your keywords are in the text links of
Once again this works to the advantage of your readers as well
as giving the search engines better information about the
contents of your pages. The more descriptive your text links
are, the better they are for your users. In fact, one of the
best methods of site navigation is to refer to the relevant
pages of your site from within the text on your page, linking
to them using descriptive keywords.
7. Use keywords in your file names
Instead of naming your files as if they didn’t matter, such as
page1.html, page2.html, put your keywords and keyword phrases
in your file names. If you do a search on Google for any
particular item you will see that wherever your search keyword
appears it is listed in the Google results in bold text.
Usually you will see this bold text in the title that is
displayed, and in the descriptive text that Google displays
underneath the title. You will also see it in the url. If your
site already has some of your keywords in your main url then
that is helpful. But even if it doesn’t you can still have
file names such as www.xyzwcompany/blue-widgets.html etc.
Do the keywords have to be separated by hyphens? Once again if
you look at Google results you will see keywords in file names
are displayed as bold text even if they are part of a longer
stream of text. This is a process known as stemming, where the
search engine can recognize keywords within longer text
blocks. Still, I personally like to use hyphens just to make
So, check your web pages and do whatever you can to help both
search engines and your end users enjoy and benefit from their
contact with your web pages. Take advantage of these seven SEO
opportunities to improve your site’s performance.
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.